Originally published in frontiersin.org on 26 June 2020
Background: The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the partial lockdown, the disease intensity, weak governance in the healthcare system, insufficient medical facilities, unawareness, and the sharing of misinformation in the mass media has led to people experiencing fear and anxiety. The present study intended to conduct a perception-based analysis to get an idea of people’s psychosocial and socio-economic crisis, and the possible environmental crisis, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladesh.
Methods: A perception-based questionnaire was put online for Bangladeshi citizens of 18 years and/or older. The sample size was 1,066 respondents. Datasets were analyzed through a set of statistical techniques including principal component and hierarchical cluster analysis.
Results: There was a positive significant association between fear of the COVID-19 outbreak with the struggling healthcare system (p < 0.05) of the country. Also, there was a negative association between the fragile health system of Bangladesh and the government’s ability to deal with the pandemic (p < 0.05), revealing the poor governance in the healthcare system. A positive association of shutdown and social distancing with the fear of losing one’s own or a family members’ life, influenced by a lack of healthcare treatment (p < 0.05), reveals that, due to the decision of shutting down normal activities, people may be experiencing mental and economic stress. However, a positive association of the socio-economic impact of the shutdown with poor people’s suffering, the price hike of basic essentials, the hindering of formal education (p < 0.05), and the possibility of a severe socio-economic and health crisis will be aggravated. Moreover, there is a possibility of a climate change-induced disaster and infectious diseases like dengue during/after the COVID-19 situation, which will create severe food insecurity (p < 0.01) and a further healthcare crisis.
Conclusions: The partial lockdown in Bangladesh due to the COVID-19 pandemic increased community transmission and worsened the healthcare crisis, economic burden, and loss of GDP despite the resuming of industrial operations. In society, it has created psychosocial and socio-economic insecurity among people due to the loss of lives and livelihoods. The government should take proper inclusive steps for risk assessment, communications, and financial stimulus toward the public to alleviate their fear and anxiety, and to take proper action to boost mental health and well-being.